Top 10 Best Beaches In California – Places You Should Visit

When the average person thinks of a vacation, the image that first comes to mind is of them laying on a white sand beach somewhere and sipping on a long cool drink. This scenery is what brings many people to California beaches.

But even more so is that a week’s worth of taxing labor, from the nine to five every day hustle and bustle, is stressful. This can lead to a level of stress that can be toxic, which must eventually be mitigated. But thankfully, it can melt away under the continuous ministrations of a day at the beach.

No matter where you are in the world, beach life is wonderful.

It does not matter whether it is on a group of islands dotting the Caribbean Sea where euphoric bliss is a reality. Neither does it matter, if you are just chilling and enjoying the gentle waves of your neighboring coastlines. The beaches in California are representative of the beauty, charm and days of fun and relaxation that you can readily enjoy here.

But, just coming to any California beach is not all the planning you will need.

Choosing the perfect spot from among a wide selection of beaches can make all the difference. That is why, below, we provided a list of some of the top beaches in California.

The Beaches in California

​Beaches provide the perfect spots for surfing and enjoying sandy shores that are ideal for swimming. Not to mention, there are sweet waves that attract the avid surfer. California is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west. As such, it has an extensive coastline and has quite a number of beaches.

Continue reading as we provide you with a list of the top beaches in California.

Those that are mentioned on this list are here, either because of their dominating scenic presence, or because they are popular. And we have even included those that are a hidden gem, worthy of your time and effort. We have also looked at those that have natural features.



La Jolla Shores Beach

La Jolla Shores Beach

​San Diego is one of the locations that have a number of wonderful California beaches. And this, La Jolla Shores beach, sits right up there at the top of the list. When you visit, expect to see great crowds in the high season, because it is well known to foreigners, visitors, and locals.

If you’re up to exploring out on the waters – then take along your paddleboard or just use a kayak if you prefer.

La Jolla Shore is home to many surfers that love to ride the waves. It is a common practice to see children surfing as well, and the experts are there ready to get them engaged in surf life.

For anyone who prefers a quieter session on the beach, then walk or drive towards the Scripps Pier. If you go too far beyond that, then you are certain to end up on South Black’s Beach. This is a place for nudists, so venture out there at your own risk!


​Santa Monica State Beach

Santa Monica State Beach

People are always engaged with tons of activities at the Santa Monica State Beach. This is a popular spot because of its many shops, enormous beach space, and amusement rides. The management team knows to expect thousands of visitors, so the beach parking provides an ample amount of spots.

In close proximity, you will discover that there are a number of parks. They are well maintained and each one is different from the next. If you wish to enjoy the area for a few days, then you can opt to stay at any of the hotels in town or close by the Santa Monica State Beach.

Explore as much as you want and stop by the local restaurants for a bite to eat.


​Coronado Beach

Coronado Beach with people having fun in the beach

​Visitors count this as one of the most popular beaches in California. It appeals to all categories of people. No matter whether you are an adult, playful child trotting along with a large family, or just unwinding with your favorite person.

The beachfront is protected by Point Loma, so you will not have to worry about the huge crashing waves, as you would see on other beaches.

It has a great beach surface for those who want to walk for a spell. Or, if you prefer, you can traverse the many boardwalks or sidewalks that run parallel to the beach. Along the way, you might pass the popular Hotel Del Coronado.

You can stop by at any time and avail yourself of their many restaurants.

Further, to the north, you might also come upon the Coronado Dog Beach. For those with pets, it is a great spot to splash about with your pooch with no worries.


​Carmel City Beach

Overlooking view of white beach

At this location, you will find a bunch of friendly people, regardless of how pompous the name of the community is. However, Carmel-By-The-Sea is a pricey area. If you are seeking homes close by, they can easily range into the millions.

However, Caramel has one of our most favorite California beaches.

It has pristine white sandy beaches and you can easily enjoy a bit of solace.

If you want to have a bit of romantic getaway with your lover, walking the beach hand in hand or lounging with a book, you can do that too. Or, come out just in time to watch the sunset in the evenings. You will not forget it. This beach offers peace, relaxation and you can dip your toes in the water at any time.

Every so often, you might see people lazing about beach fires, soaking up the warmth that the small flames offer.


​Moonstone Beach

Beach and stones

​Contrary to what you see on Carmel’s white beaches, here in Cambria you will see good-looking brown sand beaches.

Running parallel to the beach is Moonstone Beach Drive. There you can stay at any of the many motels. Accompanying them is also a myriad of restaurants, which are known to prepare delicious dishes. You will find them mostly situated in the northern area of Cambria.

Moonstone Beach gets a mention on this compiled listing, regardless of the fact that the beach is constricted when the tide is high.

Close by, there are two more beach spots, namely Leffingwell Landing and Santa Rosa Creek. Moonstone Beach has a wooden boardwalk that travels along the bluff and leads off to these other California beaches. You can access it from many points along the way.

Remember, stop and look out onto the ocean. Moonstone is known for its picturesque shoreline that is appreciated by many.


​Salt Creek Beach

Man in seashores

Orange County beaches are also one of our many favorites – and this one is of no exception. It is also popular with families that live in the area. They all go to the Salt Creek Beach Park.

Especially during late spring and throughout the summer months, people come and just lounge about on the grass areas. You will usually see lots of families and lovers having picnics there. Some also take the activities to the beach as well. But the wind can whip up suddenly, so they usually picnic at the park.

And because of said winds, this makes Salt Creek beach a great place to surf.

There are several beach amenities that you can partake of, including lifeguard services. On any given day, you can just show up and people watch. You will see surfers, body boarders, and swimmers enjoying all that the Pacific Ocean has to offer.

A little way to the south, you will also see tide pools when it is low tide. Take a look and see what little creatures might be swimming inside!


​Sand Dollar Beach

Sand Dollar Beach with coconut tree

​This is often an overlooked area and it should not be. As far as the other California beaches go, they can be quite crowded. But anyone seeking solace and reflection time will quite appreciate Sand Dollar beach.

This gem is located off of Highway 1 in Big Sur. Drivers are so focused on their journey and getting from one place to the other, they simply cruise on by. But if you are in this area, stop off and look at the beauty of this place. It might not be a spot that you want to lounge about all night. However, when it comes to enjoying some beach time during the day, then you can add it to the list.

Also of note is Plaskett Creek Campground – the grounds are just across the road from the beach.

Beachcombers are also known to come upon green jade stones. If you happen by, search for them closer to the cliffs. For the more daring among us, go to the Jade Cove. Some stones might be left there, though rockhounders have almost scavenged them all.


​McClure’s Beach

Sand, stone and beach

Another hidden gem is McClure’s beach. For this, you will have to take a good drive out to Point Reyes National Seashore. Park your car and prepare to walk half-mile on a sandy track.

It is not developed, neither has it any amenities. It is untouched, unrestrictive, and quite a ways from the hustle and bustle found on the more popular California beaches.

McClure’s beach has multicolored collapsing bluffs at the back of the beach, but it is of a good size. You can venture out and explore.


​Pebble Beach of Crescent City

Overlooking view of the beach

Pebble Beach is a popular beach name in California. But today, we are talking about the one in Crescent City. It is better than most and worthy of the top spot on this list.

Many residents of Crescent City are familiar with this spot. You can find it if you are driving around the North California community. Ask the locals if you are venturing too far away. Around high tide, the beach will be quite a narrow slip. Nonetheless, at low tide, it presents some contrast to what it was before.

Just offshore, you will see the Castle Rock a little away. It is a huge rocky island.

Here, you will find a number of sea lions, seals and seabirds that call the island home, for a season anyway. It is a national wildlife refuge. The rocks on this island preserve shelter the animals there. Take a camera because there will be lots to capture.


​San Gregorio State Beach


​And finally, we come to a spot that is worthy of being on any top beach in California list. The San Gregorio State Beach is located in the San Mateo County.

For those seeking a picnic spot, there is an area of sufficiently large size by the bluffs. Then, down by the beach you can romp, swim, paddle, or just splash about.

Nature lovers will adore the lagoon and creek that is just beyond the beach. Take a camera, because there is just so many picturesque moments and scenery.

If you are up for a hike or a casual stroll, then you will certainly get it here at the San Gregorio State Beach. You can trek beyond the creek to as far as Pomponio State Beach, and even further beyond that location. The only preventative is high tide. While that is to the south, to the north of the creek, you may notice the caves that are there.

And bordering the north part of the beach is a private nudist type of beach.

​Have a Relaxing Visit on the Beaches in California

​The earth’s surface is made up of mostly water, which means we have no shortage of beaches to choose from and to lounge around all day. However, not all are swim-worthy.

So, it is basically left to you to decide which beach is to your liking. As well as, whether the pre-existing amenities are suitable to meet your requisite tastes.

Above, we have provided a list of those top California beaches that are worthy of a look, a sit, or a swim. The most worthy among them, San Gregorio State Beach, is a good spot for any purpose that you may have in mind. Take a book. Take your camera. Take your surfboard or simply go for a gentle stroll along any of the top beaches mentioned here.

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